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Seeds Planted, Stories Told: Paul Sailer, Author of “I Had a Comrade”

farm life

What do White Pines and World War II relationships have in common? They’ve both been carefully cultivated by Paul Sailer. Since 1983, Sailer has been successfully planting and harvesting those white pines, Norway pines, balsam firs, eastern larches, white spruces and black spruces on his 85-acre tree farm in Wadena County, Minn.

In addition to harvesting the trees, Sailer has also made good use of the paper they produce by writing historical nonfiction books about fighter pilots flying missions over France and Germany. His latest effort, “I Had a Comrade,” is a study of the lives of the men, their families and even the people caught in the crossfires of battle in Europe.

Sailer came by both vocations honestly. He planted trees on his father’s farm as a boy, and heard many war stories from those who lived it. “My father served with the Eighth Air Force in England during World War II,” he says. “Sitting with me and my siblings on a winter’s night, he would talk about his war experiences while showing us his scrapbook and memorabilia.”

Sailer says he also saw through veterans’ eyes how the war affected rural families. “Many of the young men and women who served in the military and in defense plants came from farming and ranching country. Few returned to rural America.”

After college, Sailer enlisted in the U.S. Army. He flew helicopters for a year in Vietnam. Back home, he’s had a long career in the human services field … and tree farming.

Today, he uses a Massey Ferguson® 2605 and its many attachments for mowing trails, creating fire breaks, removing large rocks, lifting logs and clearing snow in the winter. And while studying the war lives of the Greatest Generation remains a passion, when the weather permits, a perfect evening now is, he says, “Enjoying a cup of coffee with my wife on the front porch of our home as a gentle breeze whispers through the trees we planted all those years ago.”

See the full story and order the book at http://myFarmLife.com/sailer.

Gene Mealhow: Using a Vintage Allis Chalmers Tractor and Massey Ferguson Combine in Popcorn

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“All the farm work, from tillage and weed control to cultivating and the planting process, is done with the Allis Chalmers 185 tractor,” says Gene Mealhow, owner of Tiny But Mighty popcorn, who farms near Shellsburg, Iowa.

He brags on how the older model tractor still “runs great. We keep the oil changed, and we’ve had to fix hydraulic hoses and put on new tires and a muffler, but even in the winter, it starts fine.”

For a time, he had his neighbors do the harvesting. His small acreage, though, was a problem. “No farmer wants to quit harvesting thousands of acres, change his combine over, come to me and do a five-minute pass through a field to harvest,” says Mealhow.

So he borrowed a neighbor’s 300 Massey Ferguson® combine and does the work himself now. “It worked great so I ended up buying it.” Mealhow says his corn is “an heirloom, ancient old seed, and it seems like this ancient heirloom combine does the best job of cleaning it. Because it is a small-capacity combine, it does a more efficient job harvesting the popcorn seed and cleans our smaller seeds better than a larger combine too.

“When I first got it, there were some parts on it that needed updating—bearings and all of that,” Mealhow notes. He called on K & A Farm Equipment, Inc., in Strawberry Point, Iowa. “I asked them if they had parts and they said, ‘We might be able to put our hands on some. We service about three or four of those.’ They did have all the parts: sickle blades, bearings and just little things. They still maintain a wonderful selection of parts for the older equipment.”

Mealhow readies the combine about one month before harvest begins, checking the oil, filters, hoses, bearings, chains and belts. “You don’t want to go to the field and have it break down,” he says.

See the full story: The Tiny But Mighty Popcorn King.

Harvesting Pollen: Nothing to Sneeze At

There aren’t many farmers in North America who intentionally plant and nourish weeds on their farm. But Jim Sneed, who farms about 400 acres near Sedalia, Mo., is anything but conventional.

The 10-acre plot of ragweed he plants each year should be proof enough. That’s because Sneed is one of a small number of farmers across the U.S. and Canada who collect pollen from a variety of grasses, trees and weeds, and sell their harvest to pharmaceutical companies that turn the pollen into extracts for treating and testing of allergies.

Jason and Jim Sneed, among the ragweed.

Jason and Jim Sneed, among the ragweed.

Sneed is actually the second generation to manage the pollen collection business, having taken over from his late father, who began collecting pollen back in 1968. Today, Sneed and his wife, Stephanie, along with their youngest son, Jason, run their pollen collection business.

“All total, there are about 50 different plants and trees from which we collect pollen,” he told us last summer. “Of course, we don’t harvest every type of pollen every year. We generally get a list of requests early in the year, so we have time to plant a particular crop if we need to.”

Sneed, who prefers not to share many of his methods and innovations for fear of giving away too many hard-earned secrets, notes that pollen harvesting has little in common with growing corn or soybeans. For starters, there isn’t any equipment commercially available for pollen harvest.

Instead, Sneed designed and built two of his own machines. Tree pollen, meanwhile, is collected with the aid of two bucket trucks.

Sneed also bales many of the grasses and clover he uses for pollen production. For that work he trusts a Massey Ferguson® 2946A model round baler with a silage kit. “It’s been working perfectly,” Sneed relates.

See the full story: Harvesting Pollen: Nothing to Sneeze At

Great Hay Equipment, Great Hay Yields

“I haven’t used anything but Hesston hay equipment since I got into the hay business more than 20 years ago,” Randy McGee says, noting that his current inventory includes a WR9770 windrower and three Hesston by Massey Ferguson® balers on his Idalou, Texas, farm. “The greatest asset right now, though, is the double conditioner on the windrower. It allows me to bale at least a day earlier and usually saves one cutting or more each year from getting rained on.”

McGee shows off alfalfa cut with a double conditioner on his Massey Ferguson WR9770.

McGee shows off alfalfa cut with a double conditioner on his Massey Ferguson WR9770.

“Between the drip irrigation system, which lets me get water on the field quicker than normal, and the double conditioner, which allows me to reduce drying time and get the hay baled and off the field quicker, I’m currently cutting a crop every 21 to 24 days.”

When it comes to baling his hay, though, McGee has three options. Most of the dairy hay is put up in 4- x 4-foot bales with an MF2190 large square baler. However, he also has an MF2846A for round bales that go to local feedyards and a Hesston 4590 small rectangular baler for horse hay.

All three balers, as well as the windrower, were purchased from Livingston Equipment Company in Muleshoe, Texas. Plus, McGee is also getting a fourth piece of Massey Ferguson hay equipment—an RK Series rotary rake—that he can use for a year for having the highest overall relative feed quality (RFQ) score in last year’s Southeastern Hay Contest. (Massey Ferguson joined the program in 2015 as the title sponsor of the event and grand-prize contributor.)

“Until I bought the MF2190 big baler, I had been using an older Hesston 4910,” McGee relates. “The difference is unbelievable. With nearly double the capacity, baling takes a lot less time, which further contributes to the short time plants go without irrigation.”

For more information on the Massey Ferguson WR9770 Windrower or the Hesston by Massey Ferguson balers, see your nearest Massey Ferguson dealer or visit online at masseyferguson.us.

See the full story: This Alfalfa Hay Quality Is Off The Charts

Massey Ferguson 8737: A Legacy of Quality Continues

Being named the 2015 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year was very good for Danny Kornegay. Among other prizes, the North Carolina farmer received a year’s use of a Massey Ferguson® 8737 tractor. The prize had a sort of back-to-the-future feel for Kornegay, who recalls as a boy riding and working on a Massey Ferguson 35 Deluxe tractor on his family’s then part-time operation.

Danny Kornegay

Danny Kornegay

The tractors in the 8700 Series, with 8.4-liter, 6-cylinder AGCO POWER™ engines, deliver 270 to 370 max engine HP. An Engine Power Management (EPM) system also offers an additional 30-HP boost when needed to provide more torque and power to a particular application.

“I like the features of the tractor, and it is well built,” says Danny’s son, Dan. “The Dyna-VT™ transmission is very nice because you don’t have to change gears,” says Danny. “The extended cab is really nice, and the comfortable ride may be the best feature.”

This line of tractors also features the new CYCLAIR™ cooling system that increases performance by maximizing air flow through a series of coolers and out through a redesigned hood. Vents in the hood split the air flow to expel hot air, while directing cool, fresh air toward the main radiator.

The 8700 Series tractors can be equipped with front 3-point hitches with a lift capacity up to 11,023 pounds. There is also a newly redesigned rear 3-point hitch that’s easier to use and offers an increased lift capacity of 26,355 pounds.

For more information on the Massey Ferguson 8700 Series tractors, see your nearest Massey Ferguson dealer or visit online at masseyferguson.us.

See the full story: Massey Ferguson 8737: A Legacy of Quality Continues

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